State of the Stash 2016

Guys I might definitely have a yarn problem.

I know it’s nothing compared to some of the people on Ravelry, but that’s like merely not being the drunkest person at an Eagles game. It’s just not high of a bar.

My goal for 2015 was to knit 50 balls of yarn and maintain a “one in two out” rule, and I’m happy to say that I pulled it off! I used 50 balls, gave away 12, and “only” purchased 30. Some of the more fun projects for the year included a “yarn topiary,” a christening dress for the new baby, a sweater for the 3 year old, and a big shiny Clapotis shawl.

I’ve got 10 projects on the needles. A couple of them just need minor finishing I haven’t gotten around to. One is a giant bedspread which will maybe be done sometime before my preschooler goes to college. The others are in various states of boredom or inconvenience (it’s hard to fit a bedspread in a tote bag and take it on the train).

I spent the last two evenings organizing my Ravelry stash (an online database of yarn which you can annotate with quantities, colors, etc) and tallied up just how much I have. I went by weight rather than yardage because it is much, much easier to measure.

I have 28.6 Pounds of yarn. 13 kilograms.

Back of the envelope math has that spread over 170 balls in 140 different brands/colorways.

My goal for 2016 is to reduce my total stash by 25%, which is a pretty tall order. It requires knitting through 2,500 grams of existing yarn plus anything I buy new. A lot of my focus will be on using up single skeins and odd balls of weird fibers that can’t easily be incorporated into other projects. Some types of yarn are just better to have lying around than others. I forsee a lot of tiny clothes and plush toys on the project list for the year.

Yarn Used

1692 grams so far

Yarn Purchased

650 grams so far

Net Change

1042 grams

Stash Knitdown 2015

Depending on who you ask I either have a lot of yarn, or a totally reasonable amount of yarn. I have enough yarn to take up 6 “cubes” of an Ikea Expedit bookshelf. Like many knitters I have been slowly accumulating yarn over the years and it’s time to work on actually knitting what’s in my collection instead of buying more every time I see a pattern I like.2014-04-26 13.34.38

For 2015 I’m following “one in two out” meaning I have to knit TWO balls of yarn for each ball I buy. This goal has a nice bonus of getting me started early on my Christmas knitting. The downside is I can’t share many pictures of the stuff I’m making. I’ll use this post to keep track of my progress throughout the year. I’m hoping to use up 50 balls of yarn from my stash!

Progress: 50 of 50 balls used up, 12 skeins given away, 30 skeins purchased.

Completed projects:

2014-01-11 14.50.37
Christmas Present #1. This yarn was leftover from a hat I made for Chris in 2013. I used up one complete ball and about half of the 2nd. 1 ball used
Christmas Present #2. I got this yarn in high school. I am 30. It's time to use it. I've got two balls of it and I've picked a pattern that will hopefully use them both.
Christmas Present #2. I got this yarn in high school. I am 30. It’s time to use it. I’ve got two balls of it and I’ve picked a pattern that will hopefully use them both. 3 balls used
Christmas Present #3: 4 balls used up.
Winter Hat:  New yarn purchase! 4 balls used up.
Machine Knit Gloves. The blue was a random ball in my stash, and the grey was something I got for another since-abandoned project. 1 ball used.
Christmas Project #3. This is a super ambitious colorwork project. 3
Christmas Project #3. I got a bunch of this yarn in different colors for colorwork. 1 ball used.
No photo yet: Christmas Project #4 I don't have a photo of the yarn, it's yarn that I reclaimed from a thrift store sweater.  4 balls used so far.
Ripple scarf. Reclaimed yarn from another project. 4 balls used.
Christmas Project #5. 1 ball used.
Dish Towel. Some dish cotton that I don’t think I ever actually had plans for. 1 ball used.
Coin purses. I've had this ball of ribbon yarn I never knew what to do with and finally settled on coin purses. 1 ball used.
Coin purses. I’ve had this ball of ribbon yarn I never knew what to do with and finally settled on coin purses. 1 ball used.
Cardigan for Leona
Cardigan for Leona. Matches one I made myself a couple years ago. 2 balls used.
Clapotis Shawl. This is literally one of the most popular patterns in the world. 1 ball.
Clapotis Shawl. This is literally one of the most popular patterns in the world. 1 ball.

No photo yet: Cotton Throw
I’d meant to use this yarn for a dress before realizing that worsted weight cotton is a terrible choice for a garment. 15 used.

Cable knit sweater for my nephew. 1 ball used.
Cable knit sweater for my nephew. 2 balls used.

No photo yet: Magz Bias Scarf. 1 ball used.

No photo yet: Christening Dress. 2 balls used.

In progress projects:

Ripple bedspread. Leona is due to upgrade from a crib to a bed, and I plan to make her this to celebrate. 5 used so far

2015-08-23 21.58.24
Pom Poms. It turns out making pom poms is an excellent preschooler activity. I used up some odds n’ ends!   5 balls used so far.

Sweater Finished

2014-01-18 10.49.28One of my goals before going on vacation was to finish the sweater I’d been working on, so I wouldn’t have to lug a sweater to Florida. I’m happy to say I succeeded!

The pattern is called Antler Cardigan by Tin Can Knits. I knit it out of Ella Rae Classic Superwash. It took about a month, I started it in early December.

I’ve actually been knitting a lot lately, and knit a baby sweater for a friend of mine who is expecting any day now. It’s a pattern called Tiny Rocky Coast and features little mini-cable waves all over. It’s knit in a hand-dyed sock yarn which is a blend of merino wool and nylon.

2013-12-08 15.19.24

I really should work on some of my in-progress projects, but instead I’m starting something new. I’m attempting to draft my own pattern for an irish sweater, having been unable to find any I particularly liked. Just charting the thing out has been daunting, I’m a little afraid to attempt to knit it.


Billington Bag Knit-Along with The Tangled Web

I’m organizing the Billington Bag Knit-Along with a local yarn store, The Tangled Web. It’s a felted bag that’s fully lined, and I finished the knitting yesterday.

Their version
My version, unfelted
My version, unfelted

It came out super huge, but I think a lot of that will felt down in the wash. We have a front loading washing machine so I’m a little nervous to try felting in that. The disadvantage of front loaders is that you can’t open them mid-cycle to check the progress of the felting. I may end up going over to a friend’s house to use their top loader.

It used 2 skeins of Ella Rae Classic worsted. Ravelry users can follow the project here.


Easy to knit baby sweater made from a free pattern

Striped Baby Cardigan


I knit this for a friend of mine’s baby, and my daughter was kind enough to model it for me. It uses the Little Coffee Bean Cardigan pattern, which is a free Ravelry download. I modified the stripe pattern a bit to give it a sort of stained glass motif.

Easy to knit baby sweater made from a free pattern

Each color block is 6 rows, with 1 row of black between each color change. It’s knit in Caron Simply Soft 100% acrylic yarn, which is a fairly heavy worsted weight. The 6 month size came out a little big on my 9 month old. Total yardage used was roughly 420 yards.

Colored stripes like these are a great way to use up odds and ends from other projects. You can make the stripes thicker or thinner depending on how much you have of each color. Just make sure to plan ahead so you don’t run out!

Looking for more details on the exact colors used? Check out the ravelry project page for this sweater.


Seven Holiday Knitting Ideas


It’s holiday gift knitting time! Picking patterns for holiday knitting is the most fun. I love holiday knitting because it gives me an excuse to try out patterns I wouldn’t normally make for myself. Sure, I may have spent Christmas morning blocking the sweater vest I made my sister-in-law, but the race to finish is part of the charm!

Here are seven great patterns / projects for holiday knitting. They’re fun to make, fun to get, and won’t take you until next Spring.

A close up of the rainbow that is Kauni EQPaintbox Scarf

This dramatic scarf only uses two different colorways! Effektgarn has a slow, subtle color shift that runs the length of the project. Knit Picks Chroma Fingering is a good option if Effektgarn is out of your budget.

The scarf is doubleknit, meaning it’s actually two fabrics knit back to back at the same time. It’s a great option if you’re ready to move on from plain stockinette stitch scarves.

Chadwick the Shakespearian Caterpillar

Can I tell you a secret? Babies have enough hats. I have a giant box of baby hats which Bitmap is steadily growing out of. Speaking of outgrowing things, the booties I knit her were too small for her about a week after birth. Toys, on the other hand, require no sizing!

This pattern is great because you can use up any odds n’ ends of yarn you may have lying around. It uses about 250 yards of any weight. Also it’s super cute.

Snowflake Fingerless Gloves

 Snowflake Fingerless Gloves

Color choices make this pattern easy to customize for the recipient. I knit it in just three colors, but pattern supports up to seven different colors (at once!). It also looks nice if you use one varigated or self-striping yarn and one solid color.

I used this pattern to teach myself fair isle. It’s nice because it’s worked in the round and there aren’t any crazy long floats across the back.

Entrelac Hat

Entrelac Cap

Entrelac is a knitting stitch that looks much more complicated than it is, and is a great use for varigated yarns. The hat in the picture was knit using just one ball of Chroma Worsted and a few yards of dark grey wool for the band.

Hats are great for gifting because the sizing is very forgiving. If you’re sick of scarves, try a hat!

Padraig Driving Cap

Finding interesting things to knit the men in your life can be really challenging. There are only so many ribbed beanies you can knit before you’re suffering from massive knitting boredom. Thankfully, driving caps are here to save you!

I can’t help but notice almost all the men on Ravelry wearing this hat have beards. So if you’ve got a bearded gentleman in your life, this hat is for him.

Gentlemens Socks 0Gentleman’s Sock with Lozenge Pattern

If a driving cap is still too adventurous for your XY friend, Lisa at Hidden River Yarns has an old standby: dark socks and a bottle of scotch. Socks are great holiday knitting because they’re small enough to fit in any project bag. If you’re worried about losing track of your double-points on the airplane, try the magic loop method. This pattern comes from Knitting Vintage Socks, which has a number of dad-safe patterns to try out.

 Monster Fish Coin Pocket

These are another great option for using up project leftovers. Knit up a bunch and chuck a whole school of them in the washing machine to felt. They’re meant to be coin purses, but there’s no reason you can’t hide whatever you like inside them.


I confess, I’m holding out on you all: I didn’t include any of the patterns I’m knitting for holiday gifts this year. As most of the recipients read my blog, I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. I’ll do a post-holiday round up of my Christmas knitting.

What are you knitting for loved ones this season?


Baby Sweater!

Fall has settled in nicely around us, and it’s time to make Bitmap some sweaters!

An exciting new Philadelphia yarn store opened up in my neighborhood. I’ve started haunting it with Bitmap during the day, the shopkeeper Lisa is very nice and lets us hang out and knit. I’m really stoked to have a local yarn store within walking distance and I hope they do well!

I picked up a skein of Lorna’s Laces and sat down at my knitting machine to make a sweater. This is the first time in a very, very long while that I’ve actually knit a garment on the machine instead of tinkering with it.

The sweater is knit in 5 pieces (back, left front, right front, and two sleeves) and then a folded hem is added to the front and collar. It took a week to make, although I didn’t work on it at all over the weekend. I think I could make another in a day or two.

A day by day log of my progress can be found on the sweater’s Ravelry page. I do still need to add buttons, and maybe embellish the front a bit, but in the mean time it will keep Bitmap nice and warm.


Knitting Nesting Instincts

I actually started knitting baby items well before I got pregnant myself. Baby items are some of the most satisfying things to knit: they’re quick, they’re great for using up the odds and ends in your yarn stash, and the fit can be pretty haphazard.

When my friend Bre’s baby was born I knit a tiny pair of baby booties, which immediately triggered a flood of suspicion from the family. The pattern can be purchased here.

Baby Booties

Next up was a tunic/dress thing for our own spawn. I had half a ball of Chroma yarn left, which tends to look a little like clown vomit when used by itself, so I striped it with some grey.

Tiny Tunic

The most recent is a Milo shirt, which I knit in pink even though we’re not planning on finding out the gender before the baby is born. Fun fact: pink used to be considered a color for boys as it was “light red.”

It didn’t come out nearly as well as I’d hoped, mostly because the varigated yarn competes too much with the cable details, so I didn’t bother to photograph it.

I keep track of my knitting on Ravelry, you can follow me there if you’re a knitter too.